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Gherao to projects galore
- CM confesses, ends day with rapid business action

Calcutta, Sept. 17: Gherao then, grab ’em all now.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee this morning confessed before business barons that the Left contributed the dreaded G-word to the lexicon.

By evening, Bhattacharjee was juggling with investment proposals worth Rs 50,000 crore, underscoring the dramatic transformation the wordsmiths have undergone over the years.

The biggest single-day initiative on industry in the state included two shipyards. In a first, both proposals were put on the government table in the presence of panchayat sabhadhipatis.

Bharti Shipyard, a private shipbuilder, has proposed in collaboration with the Apeejay group to build a shipyard along the Haldi river at Badur in East Midnapore. The company needs around 400 acres and will invest Rs 2,000 crore over the next 10 years.

Soon after, the Essar group laid out plans for a shipyard on Sagar Island. Industries minister Nirupam Sen has asked the district administration to show the investors land.

Later, the state cabinet’s standing committee on industry met to give the green light to some investment proposals, including Videocon’s steel mill for which the company needs 2,500 acres in Burdwan.

The panel also endorsed a plan to locate a mega chemical hub at Nayachar, near Haldia. “We’ve decided on Nayachar. However, the Salim Group will conduct a feasibility study before they agree,” Sen said. Salim will be informed after formal cabinet clearance.

The flurry of activity stood out in sharp contrast with the sullen indifference that marked the gherao-era.

Addressing a CII meeting today, the chief minister admitted that the Left had committed “serious mistakes” in the past. “Sometimes I say that our contribution to the Oxford dictionary is ‘gherao’.”

Asked about a perceived disconnect with CPM colleagues in Delhi, Bhattacharjee did not deny entirely that there were differences. “The relation between Calcutta and Delhi is not that bad. Like any other party, we debate among ourselves and try to reach a consensus.”

Requested by an industrialist to take up a bigger role nationally, the chief minister said: “My job is in West Bengal. Let me serve the state.”

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